Take a look at yourself and then make a change

Clocks in Space

Do you recognise the lyrics? You may know the title of this post as a famous Michael Jackson song, Make a Change. As much as I’d like to talk about MJ and his musical career, this post is going to be all about me and things going on in my life. Things are a-changing.

A Book and Tea began in 2013. I wanted to create a little home on the web to talk all things books, typically book reviews and author interviews, and to share my love of reading. It’s pretty obvious that I love to read and most of the time my nose is always in a book.The past 5 years have been fantastic. However, times change and I think my blog needs a new direction to reflect my life. I’m sure you have all noticed that all I’ve posted recently is book reviews and also, that it has been less frequent. There are many reasons for this and I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say my hobbies and lifestyle has changed.

As result, I’ve decided that I am going to start including foodie posts (baking/cooking/Weight Watchers) and Sewing (clothes making). My life isn’t just about books anymore and I’d like my blog to reflect that. Don’t worry though, I will still be posting about books – it’s my number one love (after my husband, obviously).

I was talking to Lisa (from Lisa Talks About, go visit!) this afternoon and honestly, I felt so relieved to talk to someone else about it. I’m not sure why but I haven’t wanted to say it out loud as that makes it all final, doesn’t it? However, it does feel right and I’m going with what my heart and gut tell me.

So, there you have it. Welcome to A Book and Tea, version 2 – books, food and sewing. I hope you continue to join me on the journey and if you decide not to, then that’s ok! Thank you for your support during the past 5 years – it’s been magical!

Clare Signature


#authorinterview: The Summer of Hopes and Dreams by Lynsey James

Happy Friday everyone. How are we all doing? Hopefully, not too cold I hope! The UK is currently experiencing the #BeastFromTheEast, so there’s lots of snow and we’re all freezing cold(!). One positive is that it’s the perfect weather for staying in and reading. 🙂

Today at A Book and Tea, I’m joined by the lovely Lynsey James, author of The Summer of Hopes and Dreams. You may also be familiar with her other books The Broken Hearts Book Club and Just the Way You Are. If you’re not, get downloading now!

So, let’s get to it…

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams is your latest release, although I’m going to post a fabulous book review later, can you give us a brief synopsis?

Lynsey: Sure! The Summer of Hopes and Dreams is all about Cleo, who’s lost her way a little bit in life. She’s been dealt a bad hand and hasn’t had it easy in life. But finding her teenage bucket list changes everything! She starts embracing life again and even meets a hunky personal trainer named after an iconic Neighbours character.

Cleo Jones has parts of her life and personality that we can all relate to. This is something I love in a character – was this your intention or just something that naturally came about?

Lynsey: A bit of both really – I wanted Cleo to be really relatable as a character, and for people to see elements of themselves in her. At the same time though, her personality was just so strong in my head as I was writing. I knew exactly the kind of person I wanted her to be, and so did she!

There’s a serious topic of weight loss and eating disorders, they were written perfectly within the novel, did you find this difficult to write?

Lynsey: I did because elements of it were quite personal. Like Cleo, I’ve experienced body dysmorphia and have had my own journey with it in the last couple of years. I wanted to make sure I portrayed the themes in the book sensitively without seeming like I was skating over them. There were a couple of scenes that took some time to write because I really wanted to nail the emotional impact. That sometimes meant delving quite deeply into my own experiences, which wasn’t always easy. I’m happy with how they came out though.

Cleo’s dream is to become a dance teacher. What are your hopes and dreams for 2018? Unless you’ve completed some already!

Lynsey: Ooh good question! The main one is to keep writing, which I’m working on right now. I’ve always got about a million ideas in my head anyway! Other than that, I’m trying to be a bit more active and healthier, which is going pretty well so far. I can’t say no to cake though.

What exciting books can we expect from you in the future?

Lynsey: I’m working on an idea right now that I absolutely LOVE. I can’t say too much about it because it’s really early days on it, but it may be my favourite book yet. Watch this space for more news…

And lastly, everyone who visits A Book and Tea gets asked this question, how do you take your tea?

Lynsey: Milk and two sugars, please!

About Lynsey James

Lynsey James Author Photo

Lynsey was born in Fife and is an incurable bookworm. A careers adviser at school once told her writing wasn’t a “good option”, so Lynsey has tried a little bit of everything, including makeup artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. Now, she finally has fulfilled her dream and is writing full-time. When not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she’s daydreaming about the day Matthew Gray Gubler finally realises they’re meant to be together. It’ll happen one day. Follow her on Twitter at @Lynsey1991

About the book

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams cover

Format: E-book
Publisher: HQ Digital
Published: 11th September 2017
Pages: 384 Pages
Genres: Chick Lit, Romance, Disorders

The Blurb

It’s been a difficult year for Cleo Jones. The car accident that crushed her leg didn’t just destroy the village baker’s dreams of becoming a dancer but crushed her confidence too. And recovering from that has been harder than healing from any number of broken bones…

But this season is going to be different. Life is turning around for Cleo! Maybe it’s the invitation from her childhood bully to their high-school reunion that’s shocked her out of a ten-year slump. Or joining Carb Counters and finally starting to shed the weight she’d piled on during her recovery – or maybe it’s catching the eye of her gorgeous personal trainer!

Whatever the answer, this is going to be a feeling she never forgets… watch out world, Cleo Jones is finally fighting back!

Purchase the book: Amazon UK

The Review

Cleo is a girl that we can all relate to. She’s changing her ways and everyone can see her smile fill her face. It’s no secret that she’s having to deal with a few personal issues that seem to rear their ugly head. However, the warm arms of a stranger bring her joy. I loved Cleo, well, who wouldn’t? She’s the type of girl you want to be friends with (she bakes!).

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams is a story about new beginnings and learning to love yourself – let’s spread the word.

A Book and Tea’s (belated) 2018 goals

Notepad on Desk

Well, aren’t I late on the whole ‘New Year, New Me’ posting? It’s now 11th January and I’m only just posting my goals for 2018. It’s better late than never, I suppose!

Reflecting on 2017…

Let’s just say that 2017 started off absolutely terrible. It’s no secret that I had to take anti-depressants and go to counselling. But, do you know what? It helped me immensely and I feel stronger for having reached rock bottom. The second-half was a different story, though. I married my best friend (cue your sick buckets), got fitter (ran a 10k) and ditched the bad things in my life (new job, etc).

Now, I honestly feel better placed to jump into 2018 and grab it by the metaphorical balls. Admittedly, I still have bad days, but don’t we all? If you ever need to talk to someone, I’m always here. Pop over an email and we can have a chat if you need it! 🙂

My goals for 2018 seem incredibly easy to achieve and that’s just what I wanted. There’s no unnecessary pressure on myself and I can continue to enjoy my favourite hobby, reading and lots of it.

Goals for 2018

1. Read 50 books
Last year, I read 40 books in the 2017 reading challenge. Naturally, I was a little disappointed with this, yet the 40 books I did read were bloody amazing, so I’m certainly not going to complain. My favourite books were (click image for review):

East of Hounslow Book Cover Sweetpea Book Cover The Breakdown Book Cover

I’ve provisionally suggested a goal of 50 books to read this year. How many have you set for yourself?

2. Devour my TBR
Let’s be honest here, we’re all a slave to the TBR list, aren’t we? Usually, we don’t even get to look at it and it just secretly grows in our spare bedrooms.

At the moment, I very rarely read books that I’ve purchased myself or been given as gifts and I’d like to change this. I am so grateful to authors and publishers for sending me review copies, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed by it all and just want to read things that I fancy. So, that’s what I’m going to do! There’s not even going to be a process behind it, I’m gonna twirl near my bookcases and randomly choose from my selection.

3. Blog more often
Who is the worst book blogger, ever? *Raises hand*. Ok, so maybe ‘worst’ and ‘ever’ are a bit harsh. However, I definitely need to post more often and more importantly, different things! I’m a Digital Marketer by day, so I should know better. I love writing book reviews, but I also love writing new pieces of content that strikes the attention of people. I’ve got a two week trip to America, so I’ll use this time to become friends with a notebook, a pen and a mind full of ideas. Watch this space!

4. Cook more
If you follow me on Twitter, you may notice that I often post tweets about food. I do usually cook most meals from scratch with fresh ingredients, but I definitely need to cook more. I’ve decided to try one new recipe a week to keep things fresh. Expect to see lots of pictures on Twitter.

What goals have you given yourself for 2018?

Be kind to yourself | #WorldMentalHealthDay

As I’m sure you’re all aware, Tuesday 10th October was #WorldMentalHealthDay – a day to unite the world and raise awareness of all mental health issues.

World Mental Health Day

It’s no secret that I suffer from anxiety and depression (as do a lot of people), so the day was something I wanted to get behind and promote. From experience, a number of people who simply don’t understand is shocking. I’ve had many suggest it’s not ‘real’ and that it’s because of my temperament. But, what they don’t seem to grasp is that anyone who suffers can’t control how they feel and more importantly, they don’t want to feel this way.

So, what has this got to do with a book blog?

Well, the reason I decided to post this blog today was that it got me thinking about how people feel when they blog. Although the majority of feelings are always positive, there are times where it all becomes a little too much!

Recently, I’ve noticed bloggers posting about their struggles with trying to keep the right balance – whether this is through work and blogging or blogging for work. The majority of people always seem to feel bad about not posting and the negative connotations surrounding it.

Where does the pressure and negative feelings come from?

Well, most of the time the pressure comes from the individual themselves and that’s all because they care!

I will admit that I often feel anxiety about my blog because let’s face it, I need to post more, but I struggle to find the time. However, the only person that puts unnecessary pressure on me for not posting is: me.

My fear is that if I don’t post frequently, I’ll lose the engagement and/or publishers won’t send me books anymore. It has happened before where I’ve taken some absence and people who I spoke to (and formed a relationship with!) stopped talking and publishers didn’t email anymore. It’s not a nice feeling when you’ve put so much time and effort into something for it to just dwindle away so easily.

But, do you know what?

F**k it! Blogging should be fun and that’s the main reason I started: to have fun! It is, and always will be, a hobby and I shouldn’t feel pressured or stressed about it. So what if people stop talking? They weren’t worth it if this is how you get treated. If publishers don’t send any books? Don’t panic, there are bookshops out there! Buy ones to read instead. Personally, I never started this blog to receive free books and that’s one thing I need to remember.

So, here’s my advice to you:

There’s no point in stressing over something you can’t change. Move on and grow stronger.

Please don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourselves. You’ve got a lot more other things to worry about! Your blog isn’t going anywhere and you can get back to it when you’re feeling in the right frame of mind.

We’re all human and things don’t always go right and that’s fine – you can do it!

Patrick from Spongebob

Have you ever felt pressure when blogging?

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Widdershins: 1600’s Witchcraft trails

Morning all, I hope you enjoy your weekend – I know I did! Lots of things have been going on in my life, so it’s nice to finally sit down and blog!

Today, I am part of the ‘Widdershins’ tour. Debut author Helen Steadman sees her novel Widdershins published this Saturday (July 1st), which uncovers the story of the Newcastle witch trials of the 1600’s, following apprentice healer Jane Chandler who uses herbs to cure the sick.

Was the Newcastle witch-finder the earliest example of local authority performance-related pay?

The common council of Newcastle, in perhaps the earliest incidence of local authority performance-related pay, is said to have paid the witch-finder twenty shillings per witch.

Things were just as grim down south, where Aldeburgh spent over one-seventh of its annual budget on witch-finding. They had to pay for the witchfinder general, Matthew Hopkins, and a special tax was put in place to raise money.

But it seems that either inflation set in, or prices rose further north. When the Scottish witch-finder fled Newcastle following the trials, John Wheeler stated that he went ‘went into Northumberland, to try women there, where he got of some three pound a-peece’.

Dr Fian engaged in necromancy (Source: Newes from Scotland)

According to John Wheeler, Henry Ogle a former MP seized him, but the witch-finder got away again, this time mostly likely back to his native Scotland. There is a record of him there being paid six pounds for ‘brodding ’ a woman called Margaret Denham at Burncastle near Lauder. In addition to this eye-watering fee, it seems Kincaid also charged a further four pounds for ‘meat and drink and wyne’. More worryingly, two men were also paid forty-five pounds for guarding Margaret Denham for a month. It seems that the witch-finding industry was a most profitable one. Not least, because Margaret Denham was a wealthy woman who had to pay for her own testing and execution, which still left sixty-five pounds following her death.

Hugo Arnot’s Criminal Trials, appendix, in J. Sands (1881) Sketches of Tranent in the Olden Time, Chapter 3 ‘Witchcraft, 1591’.
Ralph Gardiner (1849 [1655]) England’s Grievance Discovered in Relation to the Coal Trade. North Shields: Philipson and Hare. Ch. 53.
Newes from Scotland (1591) ‘Declaring the damnable life of Doctor Fian a notable sorcerer, who was burned at Edenbrough in Ianuarie last.’ London: William Wright (in Special Collection Ferguson Al-a.36 at Glasgow University).

Be sure to take a look at the previous stops on the tour – they’re fab’ hosts! My review of Widdershins will be on the blog soon!

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Merry Christmas: a little update!

Hi everyone, I hope you’re well! 🙂

I can’t believe we’ve hit the end of 2016 already, where has the time gone? 2017 is going to be jam-packed for me as I’ll be celebrating a big 3-0 birthday, plus, getting married – how exciting!

The main point of this blog entry is because I wanted to let you all know that I’m going on a blogging break/hiatus. Life has been hectic as of late, so adding the ‘pressures’ of trying to read and review onto my agenda has meant I’ve ‘burnt-out’ a little. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading, but the passion for life, in general, is low at the moment. I need to take a few weeks off to emotionally, as well as physically, get myself back on-track! I’m ok though, don’t panic – I just need time to chill, relax and drink loads of tea!

So, I bid you farewell and wish you all:

A VERY Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

If you’ve sent me books as part of tours and publication promo’, I’ll most definitely still post (the majority are end of January anyway!).

In the words of Arnie: “I’ll be back!” (aiming for the second week of January).

Love and Books,

Clare xx